Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Power running game

Chris Brown at Smart Football put a post up today about the power running game and how it's been adapted by spread offenses. Of particular importance to Michigan:

The teams, like Florida, with good running quarterbacks are only too happy to use their runningback as a fullback and use their quarterback as a tailback. When they don’t, they still can use a variety of motions to get them into this look. In this way you’ve seen a big synthesis with spread teams in the last four or five years as compared with the previous five. Whereas from 1999-2005 or so spread teams thought it to their advantage to be four and five wide most of the game to fix the defense’s personnel, in the last four or five they have begun using these H-back types more because of their versatility in the run game: they can be lead blockers, they can kick out the EMLOS [end man on the line of scrimmage] on power, they can pull and trap or lead to the opposite side, and they can be used in pass protection.

Michigan has used this play a lot with Denard Robinson. Denard will be in the backfield, next to a running back. On the snap, Denard takes a step back--a hesitation that's supposed to sell "pass"--while the running back shoots into the gap between the tackle and guard. Denard follows shortly thereafter, using the running back like a lead-blocking full back. Take a look:

Michigan is lined up in a four-wide set with Denard and Grady (I think) in the backfield. Delaware State is in the 4-4 base defense that they ran all day--they actually had a few interesting ways of combatting Michigan's zone reads that, if it was executed by a better team, might have shut down the Michigan running game.

At the snap, the right tackle kicks his blocker to the outside while the center and right guard seal the Delaware State tackle to the inside, thus creating a hole up the middle. Grady's job is to hit that hole and pick up the linebacker whose job it is to fill it.

The right guard has now released and is headed to the second level to block the linebacker in the middle of the field. The linebacker who was supposed to fill the gap is four yards away from meeting Grady's helmet in his chest. Denard has tucked the ball and is following Grady.

It's difficult to see here, but Grady is now engaged with the linebacker in the middle of the pile in front of Denard. The right guard has a clear look at Delaware State's linebacker. Denard is waiting for a hole to open up to run through. He finds one to the right of Grady and scurries through. Unfortunately:

The seal to the outside from Michigan's right tackle has given way and the Delaware State defensive end is now crashing back down on Denard who would've otherwise had nothing but open field until the end zone. The play ends up in a huge pile that pushed 5 yards further by Michigan linemen. In any case, the play worked swimmingly until a block let up. To the YouTubes:


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